Sailing to Jamestown

I was doing research for a new book and found three ships sailed from England in 1606 and founded Jamestown, Virginia. Their names were Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed. On a side note, there is some evidence the the first ship was actually named the Sarah Constant, but that’s neither here nor there. The ships carried 105 passengers and 39 crew, and it took them four months to cross the Atlantic. I added the ships to my story and didn’t think much else about them, until I saw the following picture…

susan constant, discovery, goodspeed replicas on the chesapeake

These are the replicas of the original ships. They were used in 2007 to celebrate the 400th birthday of Jamestown and remain docked on the James River. Well, if you know me, you know I love tall ships, so now you have my interest. The more I researched the ships, the more exciting tidbits I found.

Many American’s know the name John Smith (of John Smith and Pocahontas fame) as being one of the original settlers of Jamestown, but few know that he sailed to American on the Susan Constant, and less know that he was almost hung for having a disagreement with one of the ship’s officers. Instead of killing him, they imprisoned him on board the ship for the remainder of the journey. Four months is a long time to be confined to the hole.

The captain of the Godspeed was Bartholomew Gosnold. He had made voyages to the colonies before. In 1602, he discovered and named Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyards, but the settlements he tried to place there didn’t take hold. After securing funding and ships, he sailed again in 1606. This time confident that a settlement could be formed. The thirty-something husband and father never saw his family again, as he died of scurvy and dysentery only four months after landing in Jamestown. Don’t drink the water!

The Jamestown colony was settled in 1607 by adventurers bent on making a profit. The Plymouth colony was not settled until 1621. Plymouth settlers fled to the new world for religious freedom. Why is it that Plymouth is so much more popular in the American history books than Jamestown? Is it because of Thanksgiving and those silly hats the Puritans wore?

 

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2 responses to “Sailing to Jamestown

  1. Ah, you’re entering one of my favourite times in history… IMO, Jamestown is still considered something of a failed venture (consider that 50% of the settlers died, the massacre in 1622, the starving period during the first few years) which is why Plymouth and the hats have achieved more fame.

    • Ah, makes perfect sense. I’m surprise the settlers (in either colony) were not prepared to build shelters, collect drinking water, and plant food. I don’t know what they were thinking. It’s amazing any of them survived.

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